Posts Tagged ‘Emigration’

An Gorta Mór, or The Great Irish Famine

(I first wrote this March of 2012. Each year I try to add at least one new story to my Irish History Celebration posts. I’ve reposted it this month for our Irish Heritage celebration. Enjoy! – BS)

The Famine began quite mysteriously in September 1845 as leaves on potato plants suddenly turned black and curled, then rotted, seemingly the result of a fog that had wafted across the fields of Ireland. I have been told that the cause was actually an airborne fungus originally transported in the holds of ships traveling from North America to England. Somewhat ironic then if you consider how many Irish families in turn fled to North America because of it. Let no one say we Irish have not had a sense of humor in the annuals of history.

In Any event, The Great Famine was a period of mass starvation, disease and emigration between 1845 and 1852. Outside of Ireland it is more commonly called The Irish Potatoe Famine. Within Ireland, and amongst my own family it was referred to as an Gorta Mór or great hunger.

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Next Great Irish Emigration?

From 1820 to 1860 the Irish were never less than the 3rd largest group of emigrants to American shores. The potatoe famine being the largest cause, the lack of jobs and starvation sent them scrambling for hope elsewhere.

The Irish civil war of the 1920’s sent many Irish to foreign borders again, families such as my own came to America to escape the violence. My current remaining family residing in Ireland is even considering leaving.

In 2011, however, the economy seems to be the driving factor in the latest Irish push in emigration.
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